Austin Johnson’s defensive line has a lot of diversity

NFL, Tennessee Titans

The defensive lineman hopes to follow a similar path to success with the Titans.

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Austin Johnson learned patience in college, and the experience helped him during his first NFL season. ust prior to the start of training camp, Titans rookie defensive lineman Austin Johnson had breakfast with Bob Shoop, his former defensive coordinator at Penn State.

“He told me to keep a level head and absorb everything I can,’’ Johnson said of Shoop, who’s now defensive coordinator at the University of Tennessee. “We’ve always had a good connection. I could talk to him about anything when I was in college. And he is one of the smartest guys I have ever been around. He wants what is best for me. He was always pushing me to get better.”

“Blackson should move over there, and we’re going to need to get Austin Johnson up and crank him up and he needs to play at a high level,’’ Mularkey said. “I’d like just a little more nastiness in (Austin’s) play, a little more violence in his play, and I think he’ll be fine.”

Penn State defensive lineman Austin Johnson jersey spent some time with Titans defensive line coach Nick Eason at the NFL Combine, and got good vibes. Later, during the pre-draft process, he made a visit to Tennessee, and talked to defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.

“We’ve targeted Austin for a while there,’’ Titans general manager Jon Robinson said. “He can play nose, he can play five technique, he can play three technique. “There is a lot of versatility along the defensive line with him. He’s got some quickness — he’s actually got some ability to shoot gaps and win on third down situations too as a sub rush.”

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The winnowing process began with the offseason program from April through June. It continues when players report following a six-week break, and then there are only two weeks from the initial training camp practice to Aug. 13, when the Titans host the San Diego Chargers in the first of four preseason games. The preseason itinerary also includes a Saturday afternoon home game against the Carolina Panthers on Aug. 20, a nationally-televised visit to the Oakland Raiders on Aug. 27 and the final tuneup at the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 1. Nike Texans #15 Will Fuller V Black Men's Stitched NFL Limited 2016 Salute to Service Jersey

Although he is a 40-year-old, first-year general manager, Robinson is a seasoned evaluator of football talent. The Southeast Missouri State graduate spent the last two seasons as director of player personnel for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers following a 12-year stint in the scouting department of the New England Patriots, including five seasons (2009–2013) as director of college scouting for the Patriots.

“Delanie, he is one of the guys most people would compare me to,’’ Smith said. “We have the same similar build, carry the same skill-set. But Delanie Walker is Delanie Walker, and I am Jonnu Smith at the end of the day. At the end of the day nobody can bring what I can bring to the table and nobody can bring what he can bring. Everybody is their own player.”

“I hope we can find someone as productive as Delanie,” Mularkey said when discussing Smith. “I think Jonnu is a guy we feel can compete and play not just an F, we are going to see if he is going to be a point player, point blocker. Certainly with his speed and his ability in the passing game, we hope that translates to what Delanie has done for us since he has been here.”

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The Titans also added Western Kentucky receiver Taywan Taylor in the third round. Taylor hauled in 253 passes for 4,234 yards and 41 touchdowns for the Hilltoppers.
Titans tight end Delanie Walker traveled on the Titans Caravan this week. During a stop, he discussed his USO Tour, new tight end Jonnu Smith, and weapons for the offense.

“All those guys bring a different aspect to the game,’’ said Byard, a third-round pick in the 2016 draft. “Corey Davis, he’s a guy who can play on the outside, and he can take a top off a defense. Taywan Taylor can catch screens and do whatever from the slot. And Jonnu Smith is going to be able to come in and learn from Delanie Walker and be able soak up the game from him and still be a threat when he comes in. So it just brings a different dynamic to the game and teams are going to have to game plan against that.”

In the NFL Draft, the Titans added two receivers early, beginning with Davis, who caught 97 balls for 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. His 5,278 career receiving yards is an FBS record, and he ranks second in NCAA history in career receiving touchdowns with 52.

Titans linebacker Kevin Dodd is rarin’ to go

NFL, Tennessee Titans

Step by step, Titans linebacker Kevin Dodd is getting closer to playing in his first NFL game.

Outside linebacker Kevin Dodd had foot surgery on Thursday morning.

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“It is preventative,’’ Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. “It’s not major. He is going to miss the OTAs and the veteran minicamp (next month) but he should be back for training camp. I think it was smart on all of our sides to get it done now.”

Dodd, the team’s second-round pick out of Clemson, had some soreness out of the rookie minicamp earlier this month. The Titans did additional tests on his right foot, and decided to take care of the injury now to be safe. Dodd was on the practice field on Tuesday.

“He’ll miss some initial days here because he’ll be on crutches,’’ Mularkey said of Dodd. “But as soon as he can support his weight he’ll be out here and at least get some visual work with it. But obviously any time you are out it puts you behind.”

Titans rookie linebacker Kevin Dodd saw his snap count triple on Sunday compared to the previous week, and Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford saw him up close.

Dodd recorded his first career sack in Sunday’s 16-15 win over the Lions, and he was also credited with a quarterback hit and six tackles.

“Not going where you expected to go, it will push you. You are going to have a little chip on your shoulder or what not. I am still going to work. I am still going to do what Kevin Dodd has been doing. I have been grinding since day one.”

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Titans linebacker Kevin Dodd is rarin’ to go. Dodd is expected to bolster the team’s pass rush as a rookie, and in years to come.

On the first day of training camp on Saturday, Dodd was in uniform like the rest of his teammates. But instead of practicing, he worked on his own, and then stood on a fence line to sign autographs for fans afterward. Dodd was placed on the team’s Physically Unable to Perform list because of a foot injury that required surgery during the offseason. “It is real difficult just to not be able to be out there and be a part of this team,’’ Dodd said. “But the smartest thing for me now is to not be out there.

The wait is over for Titans rookie linebacker Kevin Dodd.
On Wednesday, the team officially activated Dodd from the Physically Unable to Perform list, a day after Titans coach Mike Mularkey talked with optimism about him returning to the field.

The Titans drafted linebacker Kevin Dodd in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of Clemson, but he only made a small contribution during his rookie season because of a lingering foot injury.

In his final collegiate game, Kevin Dodd made a splash – the Clemson pass rusher racked up three sacks in the national title game against Alabama, and looked dominant doing so.

In Clemson outside linebacker Kevin Dodd, they believe they’ve found a player who can help. “Not going where you expected to go, it will push you. You are going to have a little chip on your shoulder or what not. I am still going to work. I am still going to do what Kevin Dodd jersey has been doing. I have been grinding since day one.”

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Dodd was placed on Injured Reserved at the end of the season.

Dodd, who had foot surgery during the offseason and has dealt with lingering issues with the injury, was inactive this past Sunday against the Colts. Nike Titans #8 Marcus Mariota Black Men's Stitched NFL Limited Gold Salute To Service Jersey

In the third round of Friday night’s NFL Draft, the Titans moved up to select Western Kentucky receiver Taywan Taylor.

A 6-foot-1, 195-pounder, Taylor was a playmaker for the Hilltoppers, and he’ll look to do the same for the Titans.

“I can’t even put it into words,” Taylor said. “I am still trying to soak it all in. I feel so blessed and so grateful to be a part of the Titans organization, great fans, great city, great everything. I am just ready to go to work.

Titans safety Kevin Byard is very familiar with three of the team’s first four draft picks – Western Michigan’s Corey Davis, Western Kentucky’s Taywan Taylor and FIU’s Jonnu Smith. Byard faced all three in college while playing at MTSU.

“All those guys bring a different aspect to the game,’’ said Byard, a third-round pick in the 2016 draft. “Corey Davis, he’s a guy who can play on the outside, and he can take a top off a defense. Taywan Taylor can catch screens and do whatever from the slot. And Jonnu Smith is going to be able to come in and learn from Delanie Walker and be able soak up the game from him and still be a threat when he comes in. So it just brings a different dynamic to the game and teams are going to have to game plan against that.”

In the NFL Draft, the Titans added two receivers early, beginning with Davis, who caught 97 balls for 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. His 5,278 career receiving yards is an FBS record, and he ranks second in NCAA history in career receiving touchdowns with 52.

Corey Davis hoped the Titans would pick him in the NFL Draft

NFL, Tennessee Titans

The Titans have promoted defensive lineman Mehdi Abdesmad from the practice squad to the team’s 53-man roster.

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Abdesmad (6-6, 284) was signed by the Titans as an undrafted free agent out of Boston College. He appeared in 39 career games at Boston College, and recorded 98 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 21.5 tackles for a loss, one pass defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

The Titans waived defensive lineman Mehdi Abdesmad on Sunday to make room for Amaro on the 53-man roster. Amaro, waived by the Jets on Saturday, caught 38 passes for 345 yards and two touchdowns in 14 games during the 2014 season after a stellar college career at Texas Tech, where he was a first team All-America performer. Amaro (6-5, 265) caught 106 passes for 1,352 yards and seven touchdowns during his final season at Texas Tech.

Amaro, selected 49th overall by the Jets in 2014, missed all of 2015 with a torn shoulder labrum. Amaro suffered a groin injury during this year’s preseason, which caused him to miss a game. He’s paid his dues since, working on the team’s practice squad. On Wednesday, the Titans promoted Woods to the 53-man roster.

A four-year starter at Southern California, Woods (6-1, 318) signed with the Tennessee Titans jersey cheap as an undrafted free agent this year following the draft. He totaled 113 career tackles, eight sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss at USC. To make room for Woods on the roster, the Titans placed defensive end Mehdi Abdesmadon injured reserve. Abdesmad suffered an ankle injury in Saturday’s loss to the Jaguars.

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Based on the timetable, Mularkey said he thinks Mariota could be back for some of the organized team activities in May or June. Mariota should be ready for the start of training camp in July.

“I have total respect (for him),’’ Mularkey said of Mariota. “I love the player, love the man. I love everything he stands for, everything he does. I am very disappointed he got injured. He had a lot of good things ahead of him and he still does. But I am sorry to see it end his season this way, very sorry.”

But like Titans first-round pick Corey Davis, Titans receiver Rishard Matthews faced doubters heading into the NFL from those who questioned his college competition. Matthews, who played at Nevada, thinks the team’s fifth overall pick from Western Michigan will fit in just fine. Nike Titans #84 Corey Davis Navy Blue Name & Number Pullover NFL Hoodie

Corey Davis hoped the Titans would pick him in the NFL Draft.

“All of that doesn’t matter when you get to this level,” Matthews said on Tuesday during a stop on the Titans Caravan in Spring Hill. “In some areas it does matter, but I know he is going to come into the league with a chip on his shoulder like I did, and he is going to show that he belongs.

New Titans draft picks Corey Davis and Adoree’ Jackson met with reporters during a press conference on Friday at Saint Thomas Sports Park. After playing against Western Michigan’s Corey Davis in the 2015 Popeyes Bahamas Bowl during his final season at MTSU, Byard knew big things were ahead for the big receiver. “He lit us up,’’ Byard said of Davis, the team’s fifth overall pick of the NFL Draft, on Thursday. Davis had eight catches for 183 yards and an 80-yard touchdown vs. MTSU.

“After the game I knew that he was going to go first round. I didn’t know when he was going to go in the first round, but I knew he was first-round talent. It is a blessing to have him on the team because he is a big-time receiver and he is going to be a big-time receiver for years.”

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On Monday, Mariota said he’s looking forward to working with Davis, the team’s first-round pick out of Western Michigan, as well.

“I am excited,” Mariota said during a Titans Caravan stop at the Fort Campbell PX. “I am excited for our entire draft class. I think we brought in a lot of really good players, and it will be fun getting to know them and build relationships that will hopefully allow us to have some success on the field.”

He was able to congratulate new Titans cornerback Adoree’ Jackson in person last month at the NFL Draft in Philadelphia. Casey made the rounds on the Titans Caravan last week, when he discussed several topics, including Jackson, the team’s new free agents, and his spot among the top players in the NFL. The Titans snagged Jackson to bring some action. At USC, he was the 2016 Jim Thorpe Award winner as the nation’s top cornerback. He finished the season with 55 tackles, five interceptions and 11 passes defensed while totaling 1,230 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns.

After adding several players to the secondary in free agency, the Titans drafted cornerback Adoree’ Jackson with the 18th overall pick. Titans secondary coach Deshea Townsend discussed Jackson, and the group, at a recent Caravan stop.